After I landed at LHR, I headed to the T3 Flight Connections Center. This is what I was told since my connecting flight was also on VS. Also, I had a 14hr layover at London so this was an opportunity for me to go into the city and meet up with a childhood friend that I haven't met in 9 years. He works at London Bridge for Ernst & Young. So, I went through security at the Flight Connections Center, which took about 40 minutes. Then I asked where to exit so I could go out into the city and I was told to go back and go to Arrivals. I guess it was my mistake and I should have known better. So up I went again and exited through arrivals. No real questions asked. There was an Indian immigration officer and he was surprised to know that I was only going to be in the city for about 8 hours. But he let me go. Since my flights were rescheduled due to BD cancellations, I had to go to the BD desk to revalidate my tickets. So I walked to T1 and went to the BD desk. Had no problems and tickets were revalidated.
At around 10 am, I was on the Tube going towards Paddington Station. It was packed so I couldn't get a seat. Some 40 minutes later, I arrived at Knightsbridge Station and found my way to Starbucks. After having a $8 coffee, I walked into Harrods to buy some souvinears. It was a bad decision since a) the store was humungous and b) i couldn't find anything better except chocolates. So I decided not to buy anything and just walk and see the city until my friend met up with me. I ended up going to this museum and just sat there resting. I was dead tired since I hadn't gotten any sleep. So finally at around noon, my friend met up with me and we headed and got some lunch. After that he just showed me around and we ended up at a Sheesha Place before I was to head over to LHR. I had already purchased a ticket for the heathrow express so it would save me time. Off I went to Paddington Station to catch the HEX.
The ride to LHR was a quick 15 minutes. I arrived at the T1, 2, 3 station and made my way over to T3. Since I already had the boarding pass, I just ended up in the security line. The line was insanely long and there were more people in the security line to drop off their loved ones than the travellers. 40 minutes later, I made it to the security area and then another 20 minutes to go through security. The gate for the VS 350 flight still was not announced so I made my way over to the duty free shop and purchased a bottle of cologne. Then I purchased a couple of souvinears and by the time I came back, they had announced the gate for departure.
December 7, 2006
LHR - BOM
VS 350 Airbus 340-300
Reg: G-VAIR "Maiden Tokyo"
STD: 09:45 pm ATD: 10:35 pm
STA: 12:10 pm ATA: 01:30 pm
Seat: 21A (Premium Economy)
Load: 50% UC, 100% PE, 100% Y
After the gate of departure was announced, most indians present at the general meeting area started making their way to the departure gate. It was 9:45 pm and still no sign of a boarding call. People still kept making their way to the waiting area right before the boarding jet way. At around 10:00, they finally announced boarding for the UC and PE passengers. I made my way and boarded the plane and took my seat. The difference was already noticeable. Better leg room, comfy seats. This was gonna turn out to be a nice flight I thought, and boy was I right. Soon after I got comfortable in my surroundings, the FA came and offered a pre-departure beverage that included: Orange Juice, Apple Juice, Champagne, and Water. I chose to have Champagne and Water. The champagne was decent and I wasn't going to complain. Five minutes later, the same FA came about and started distributing bottled water to the UC and PE passengers. Was this the same airline I travelled on to LHR? It already exceeded my expectations from the previous segment. We were informed that due to weather, our departure would be delayed.
At around 10:35 though, we made our pushback and soon were taking off from the same runway I had landed on in the morning. Right after takeoff, the FA's came with our amenity kits. The kits included: socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, an eye mask and nice bag to put everything in. After about 20 mins from the takeoff, the first drink service came. I chose to have a gin & tonic and the guy brought back a nice strong shot of gin with a can of tonic water. I enjoyed my drink with some pretzels that they gave out. About 40 minutes later, the dinner service began. The options were: Indian non-veg, indian veg, Western non-veg, western veg. I chose the Indian non-veg and to along with it, I chose to have a Stella Artois beer. The FA gave me Tiger beer my mistake though But I wanted a Stella and he gave that as well w/o any questions asked. He said, oops... The indian non-veg dinner had chicen tikka masala, along with lentils and basmati rice along with a nan. It was really good and before I remembered to take a picture of it, I had finished it. The desert was delicisious as well.
After the dinner, they offered baileys or brandy. I chose Baileys with ice and later ordered another gin & tonic. I drank those and then passed out while I was watching the hindi movie Krissh. The entertainment system was better than the V:Port I thought because it was constantly working and it didn't need any rebooting of some sorts. I must have slept alot because when I woke up, we had about another hr left before landing and they were serving breakfast. Breakfast included orange juice, some sort of granola with yogurt and a Turkey Pannini. The Pannini was horrible but I did enjoy the granola. it was tasty.
Our approach started and the pilot informed us that we were on an holding pattern since the airport was busy. I guess an Iran Air flight and a Jet Airways flight were to land before us. So after about 50 mins of circling around, we finally landed at BOM. The landing was smooth and I was glad to have reached my home land after 6 long yrs. The immigration went smoothly and the airport was now farily deserted since I guess the passengers had already left the airport. It took about 40 minutes to retreive my bags and I made it outside and my friend was waiting to pick me up. The temperature was about 85 degrees and I couldn't be happier to be here
Check-in: 10/10 (Boarding pass at JFK; no problems)
Crew: 10/10 (Friendly, good looking, attentive)
Service: 10/10 (Really nice service, glass was never empty)
Bag Handling: 7/10 (Slow and messy)
It definitely didn't feel like I was on the same airline. The service was outstanding and much much better than the JFK-LHR sector. It put some of my faith back into VS. Now when I go back from LHR-JFK, I'll see how the service is.
Hilton Hotel near London Bridge
Stella on Tap (one of the best)
London Underground (The Tube)
James Bond allover London
Heathrow Express Station at Paddington
The Heathrow Express
Security Line at LHR T3
My Ride to BOM
The IFE Screen
The PE Cabin
Somewhere past Prague
Somewhere over Iran
Somewhere over Pakistan
Somewhere over Pakistan
Touchdown at BOM
BOM Domestic Terminal (Go Air and Kingfisher Jets)
Air India and SQ heavies
Air India Heavy
Shanghai Airlines Cargo
Indian Airlines Jet
Iran Air A300-600
Jet Airways A343 from LHR
BA 744 Departing to LHR
BA 744 Departing to LHR
Indian Rickshaw on our way home
Hope you enjoyed part 2 of this trip report. Part 3 (BOM-BLR or 9W) coming soon.